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Interview: Cody Simpson marches to beat of own strumming

Luis Gomez

About Last Night

7:34 AM CST, January 22, 2014

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Bad news for fans of teen idols Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber: Simpson doesn't think a duet with Bieber is going to happen any time soon.

They share the same manager, Scooter Braun, toured together on Bieber's Believe world tour and jumped in the studio together in the past, but Simpson believes now isn't the right time.

“We've been in the studio a couple times but never did anything that got finished,” Simpson said over the phone Monday from the Boston area, where he performed later that night. “I toured with him and had an awesome time, but musically, we're heading in different directions. Maybe we'll jump back in the studio in the future, but as of right now, we're both doing our own thing.”

The Australia-born Simpson — whose acoustic show January 29 at Lincoln Hall is sold out — said his “thing” involves making the transition from mop-topped pop star to singer-songwriter.

Why make the leap now?

“I just turned 17 and want to really home in on my music,” Simpson said. “I want to take control of my next album and make the album I always wanted to make but never really could because I wasn't confident enough. The album will have more of a live and organic sound, and the lyrics and concepts will be more mature.”

There it is: The “more mature” phrase all transitioning teen idols use when talking about their next album. While it's only natural for young artists to want their sound to evolve just as they do, there is also a risk in alienating fans who have growned accustomed to a certain sound. Still, Simpson said he is optimistic that the fans who enjoy seeing his choreographed dances in music videos and on stage will also enjoy his more raw vocals over a guitar.

“I've grown up listening to Jack Johnson and John Mayer,” Simpson said. “But I also love to groove on stage like Justin Timberlake. It's two different worlds, but I would like to combine the two. I feel like if you can do multiple things, you shouldn't shy away from them.”

Simpson released his autobiography “Welcome to Paradise: My Journey” in October — which seems a bit premature for someone isn't old enough to vote in his home or adopted country. But Simpson, who has performed in front of President Barack Obama and his daughters at the White House and released two albums since he was discovered singing cover songs on YouTube in 2010, insists that a lot has happened in his life already.

And yet, none of that involves a major controversy.

The only time you ever see him mentioned in the tabloids is when he is linked with another celebrity, such as Kylie Jenner (“Keeping up with the Kardashians”) or current girlfriend Gigi Hadid, daughter of Yolanda Foster (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). Maybe our perception of young celebs have been tainted by Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, but it's almost surprising that Simpson, who has more than 6 million followers on Twitter, has managed to maintain a positive image to date. And he's done it without coming off as boring or too safe.

“It's kind of who I am,” said Simpson, a surfing fanatic. “I'm pretty drama-free.”

Simpson lives with his family in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and said he is in no rush to move out on his own. On the road, he is always joined by his father. “We're really good mates,” said Simpson.

Speaking of the road, he noted that the crowds at his shows tend to be predominantly female, as is the case with many young pop stars. Asked if that ever bothers him, Simpson responded the way you would expect a 17-year-old male to respond.

“I have a good time performing for girls,” Simpson said, laughing. “I think the guys will come when I grow up musically. We'll see.”

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

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Cody Simpson
When: 7 p.m. Jan. 29
Where: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: Sold out